West Bengal is a state in the eastern region of India along the Bay of Bengal. With over 105 million inhabitants, it is India’s fourth-most populous state, after Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Bihar. And also the fourteenth-largest state by area in India. West Bengal is bounded by the countries of Bangladesh in the east, and Nepal and Bhutan in the north. It is the only state in India to have both the Ganges and the Brahmaputra flows across it. The Hooghly River, a distributary of the Ganges, drains the Hooghly basin, the largest in India.
It has an area of 88,752 km2 (34,267 sq mi). The cultural heritage of West Bengal includes the Durga Puja festival and a rich tradition of literature, theater, music, visual art, and dance. The state has a long coastline, the Hooghly River, and the Ganges delta; along with the Bhāgirathi, the Mahanadi, and the Brahmaputra rivers, the water resources are extensive. The region was home to the ancient Bengal Sultanate and the medieval Hindu kingdoms of Kamarupa and Gauda. It was also a bastion of regional Indian religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Muslimism, and Jainism.
The origin of the name Bengal (Bangla and Bongo in Bengali) is unknown. One theory suggests the word derives from “Bang”, the name of a Dravidian tribe that settled the region around 1000 BCE. The Bengali word Bongo might have been derived from the ancient kingdom of Vanga (or Banga). Although some early Sanskrit literature mentions the name Vanga, the region’s early history is obscure.
Established: 26 January 1950
Largest city: Kolkata
• Governor: Jagdeep Dhankhar
• Chief Minister: Mamata Banerjee (AITC)
• Legislature: Unicameral (294 seats)
• Parliamentary constituency
Lok Sabha (42 seats)
Rajya Sabha (16 seats)
• High Court: Calcutta High Court
• Total: 88,752 sqkm (34,267 sq mi)
• Area wise Rank: 13th
• Total 10,53,47,736
• Rank 4th
• Density 1,129/sqkm
• Total: ₹17.33 lakh crore (US$230 billion)
• Per capita: ₹165,000 (US$2,200)
• Official Bengali • English
• Additional official Languages: Nepali • Urdu • Hindi • Odia • Santali • Punjabi • Kamtapuri • Rajbanshi • Kurmali • Kurukh • Telugu
Time zone: UTC+05:30 (IST)
ISO 3166 code IN-WB
Vehicle registration: WB
Literacy (2021): 78.48%
Sex ratio (2021): 1011 ♀/1000 ♂
Motto: Satyameva Jayate (Truth alone triumphs)
Song: “Banglar Mati Banglar Jol”
Dance: Rabindra Natyam, Chhau dance (Purulia)
Bird: White-throated kingfisher
Tree: Chatim Tree
River: Ganga, Tista, Damodar, Kangsabati
Geography and climate:
West Bengal is on the eastern bottleneck of India, stretching from the Himalayas in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south. The Darjeeling Himalayan hill region in the northern extreme of the state is a part of the eastern Himalayas mountain range. In this region is Sandakfu, which, at 3,636 m (11,929 ft), is the highest peak in the state. The narrow Terai region separates the hills from the North Bengal plains, which in turn transitions into the Ganges delta towards the south. The Rarh region intervenes between the Ganges delta in the east and the western plateau and high lands. A small coastal region is in the extreme south, while the Sundarbans mangrove forests form a geographical landmark at the Ganges delta. Damodar, another tributary of the Ganges and once known as the “Sorrow of Bengal” (due to its frequent floods), has several dams under the Damodar Valley Project.
West Bengal’s climate varies from tropical savanna in the southern portions to humid subtropical in the north. The main seasons are summer, the rainy season, short autumn, and winter. While the summer in the delta region is noted for the excessive humidity, the western highlands experience a dry summer like northern India. The highest daytime temperatures range from 38 °C (100 °F) to 45 °C (113 °F). At night, a cool southerly breeze carries moisture from the Bay of Bengal. In early summer, brief squalls and thunderstorms are known as Kalbaisakhi, or Nor’western, often occur. West Bengal receives the Bay of Bengal branch of the Indian Ocean monsoon that moves in a southeast to northwest direction. Monsoons bring rain to the whole state from June to September. Heavy rainfall of above 250 centimeters (98 in) is observed in the Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, and Cooch Behar districts. During the arrival of the monsoons, low pressure in the Bay of Bengal region often leads to the formation of storms in the coastal areas. Winter (December–January) is mild over the plains, with average minimum temperatures of 15 °C (59 °F). A cold and dry northern wind blows in the winter, substantially lowering the humidity level. The Darjeeling Himalayan Hill region experiences a harsh winter, with occasional snowfall.
West Bengal is religiously diverse, with regional cultural and religious specificities. Although Hindus are the predominant community, the state has a large minority Muslim population. Christians, Buddhists, and others form a minuscule part of the population.
Other Religions (1.03%)
The state’s official languages are Bengali and English; Nepali has additional official status in the three subdivisions of the Darjeeling district in 2012.
The Bengal region in the northeast and east has been home to many of the world’s most talented, intelligent, and creative individuals. Many of our readers have roots in this region and have a strong tie to this area. Today, we hope that you have been able to learn more about this beautiful state!
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